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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Of elves, dwarves, and demons

We tend to scoff at historical reports of elves and changelings, of dwarves and demons.  But prior to knowing enough genetic science to understand the various ways that DNA can go awry, what would have been a more logical explanation for observable phenomena such as this?
Charlotte was born with a form of Primordial Dwarfism so rare doctors don't even have a name for it. But despite being warned she could die before the age of one, Charlotte has developed into a boisterous and inquisitive girl.
Look at the pictures.  In those without her glasses, Charlotte looks more than a little like something out of a Harry Potter movie.  In fact, if she stays healthy and survives to adulthood, she might well hope to have a very profitable career as an actress as she does not appear to have any of the bulbous features that commonly appear on midgets.

Of course, this may be a dangerous line of thought, as if there were material evidence of elves and changelings, one wonders what physical phenomena inspired historical tales of giants and demons.

Labels:

63 Comments:

Anonymous ODG October 07, 2012 6:51 AM  

I saw a girl with a condition like that in college. She was obviously a student by the backpack full of books she carried (that was nearly as big as she was). My immediate thought was "I've just seen a real-life elf!"

If you imagine a more superstitious time, where a child like that would be hidden away, maybe forced to steal food to survive, you can easily see how the elf/gnome concept arose.

Anonymous Kyle In Japan October 07, 2012 7:24 AM  

The world certainly doesn't need a real-life Gregor Clegane, that's for sure.

Anonymous The Great Martini October 07, 2012 7:34 AM  

The case for giants as mythologized people suffering gigantism, an endocrine disorder, is pretty clear cut. Look at pictures of Andre the Giant.

Blogger JACIII October 07, 2012 7:45 AM  

The giants were Germanic. Get on one of their best selling motorcycles - The "low" seat height is 35.2".

It is not hard to imagine an isolated well fed group managing to breed the female preference for tall men until their folk got all out of proportion to the rest of the half starved and stunted population.

Anonymous Nihilus October 07, 2012 7:46 AM  

This is Robert Wadlow

Anonymous Jeigh Di October 07, 2012 8:11 AM  

There are the biblical records of the Nephilim...

Anonymous CatDog October 07, 2012 8:39 AM  

...and Dragons.

Heard somewhere that every major culture has tales of dragons from all across the world. Doubt that's completely true, but there are definitely tales from lots of cultures and nations about Dragons.

Anonymous Cryan Ryan October 07, 2012 8:41 AM  

And don't forget the ultimate spinners, the Homo floresiensis!

Anonymous Anonymous October 07, 2012 8:41 AM  

"Elves" would be a spiritual phenomenon. One still not extinct, by the way. Read Jacques Vallee's books on UFOs.

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic October 07, 2012 9:12 AM  

My initial thought was more pedestrian. Is it just me or do there seem to be a lot of stories like this coming out of Great Britain? I've seen articles on butterfly skin, brittle bones with facial malformation.

They don't give mom's age in the article but I'm guessing she has at least 10 years on her 26-yo hubby. And I doubt The Tattoed Lady has heard about folic acid or fetal alcohol syndrome.

Are British whites devolving?

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic October 07, 2012 9:13 AM  

No mention of what dad does for a living either.

Anonymous Poli_Mis October 07, 2012 9:17 AM  

The Germanic comment above is spot on. I was riding the trains all over Western Germany last week and I felt like a dwarf myself. Like a country full of NBA players. And every single dude pushing 7-feet had a more than fetching little fräulein on his arm. Alpha indeed.

Blogger JD Curtis October 07, 2012 9:20 AM  

If anyone is interested, I recently found a good article re: giants and the Bible from The Associates for Biblical Reasearch

Anonymous Kickass October 07, 2012 9:24 AM  

My first thought was how her facial features and proportions to the other child are nearly exactly that of some of the elves in more then one childs storybook that I have or have read. All published more the 30 years ago. Interesting to have that if she is so rare.
Dwarves and Giants (demons too) are all recorded in the Bible. And of course, live among us now.....

Blogger __t_i_m_o_t_h_y__ October 07, 2012 9:40 AM  

She is a beautiful child.

Anonymous VryeDenker October 07, 2012 10:20 AM  

As for dragons: Ever seen a dinosaur fossil?

Anonymous rycamor October 07, 2012 10:37 AM  

Fascinating. Aside from the historical possibilities, this might be an interesting study in I.Q. and brain size, as she develops.

Anonymous VryeDenker October 07, 2012 10:45 AM  

I have a very strong suspicion that my two Eclectus parrots are more intelligent than, say, a sheep which has a much larger brain.

Anonymous zen0 October 07, 2012 10:47 AM  

Many giant skeletons have been found. Search: -Human Giants-

Also folklore covers the subject.


Red-Haired Giants of Nevada

Growing up in Nevada I had heard stories of the Sitecah from the Paiute Indians that lived in the area. They told of red-haired men and women of light colored skin as tall as 12 feet who originally lived in the area when the Paiutes had first arrived. Evidently these human giants liked to eat the Indians so they had problems making friends.

Blogger Bob Wallace October 07, 2012 11:00 AM  

Robert Wadlow was from my area and I've stood by his statue and sat in his seat. They're both in a park. I knew a woman who knew him and showed me a picture of her standing next to him. He was still growing when he died. Oddly, he never entered puberty. He died from an infection that started on his ankle from an ill-fitting brace.

His hand was bigger than my face.

Anonymous Cat McClusky October 07, 2012 11:17 AM  

"Now measuring less then 70cm, she still wears clothes for newborns and is dwarfed by the family's pet cat."

The cat adopts a low crouch, staring intently ahead while licking its chops. Time to get Charlotte a faithful watch dog.

(I know of that which I speak...Cat McClusky)

Anonymous melonhead anonymous October 07, 2012 11:28 AM  

for the thal-lovers

Anonymous cherub's revenge October 07, 2012 11:54 AM  

Took me about ten minutes of internet searching to remember the stupid movie, but definitely a Gelfling from The Dark Crystal.

Anonymous kh123 October 07, 2012 12:03 PM  

-Acromegaly (Notice how the angling of the forehead and the thickening of the brow ridge seems reminiscent of Neanderthals.)

-An illustration of harlequin ichthyosis. (Actual pictures are not for the faint of heart. Note though how this illustration resembles something out of Olaus Magnus' medieval bestiary.)

-Someone who's survived harlequin ichthyosis into adulthood.

Anonymous Salt October 07, 2012 12:55 PM  

OT-

O'Reilly vs Stewart.

Anonymous Michael Heiser October 07, 2012 1:12 PM  

Those with endocrine disorders would be a separate issue from what has historically been noted as warrior Giants - such as Goliath of Gath. His armor alone would negate any ideas of weakness or fragility.

A supernatural DNA manipulation of human beings is on the menu. It also explains much of the killing of "races" and "peoples" and their bloodlines in the OT.

Blogger Campion October 07, 2012 1:26 PM  

The Romans found the Germans to be grotesquely tall. Average Roman ~5'4", avg German 6'. I think myths of giants more likely come from encounters/wars between shorter and taller peoples, subsequently exaggerated for dramatic effect.

Anonymous Geezer Butler October 07, 2012 1:49 PM  

Goin' home, late last night
Suddenly I got a fright
Yeah I looked through a window and surprised what I saw
A fairy with boots and dancin' with a dwarf.

I've always known they are real and among us.

Anonymous Anacaona October 07, 2012 1:51 PM  

I think I read that legends about Cyclops came from Elephant skulls. The depression in the middle for the trunk looks similar to the ones for the human eyes.

I wouldn't be surprised if in the past with less mobility and more inbreed certain traits got passed on and created communities that could lead to certain legends. Specially if this communities were hostile and secluded.
No to mention that humans already knew that they could select for certain traits to improve crops and domesticated animals. Making the tallest and strongest of their groups to have as many children together as possible, eliminating and killing the weak ones after being born sound like things that could easily become a culture. Of course this also mean that they could have secret weaknesses that once discovered will lead to extinction pretty quickly, the same way some dog breeds have diseases only inherent to them.
Interesting post to ponder!

Blogger JohnG October 07, 2012 2:23 PM  

I think there's ample evidence of giants. The story seems to be that whenever something giant like is found, it's snapped up quickly by museums and private collectors. Some giants pictured on this page: http://www.stevequayle.com/index.php?s=30 they don't look particularly fragile to me.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation (Ben) October 07, 2012 2:36 PM  

There's extensive evidence of alien abductions. Many abductions have taken place over sparsely populated areas in the middle of nowhere. Just listen to coast to coast and you'll hear all about it.

Anonymous Kickass October 07, 2012 2:43 PM  

Anacaona, the point you are missing is that it isnt what you think or imagine. The point is what is the truth and why does evidence point to us all being decieved. You are attempting to come up with imaginative ways the lies could be true instead of seeking the truth.

Anonymous VryeDenker October 07, 2012 3:00 PM  

Like one of the ilk asked in 2008 somewhere "what happened 10000 years ago?". It seems mankind was given a little "push".

Anonymous antonym October 07, 2012 3:07 PM  

Dwarf babies probably died in infancy back then

Anonymous The One October 07, 2012 3:49 PM  

Book of Enoch explains all. Jesus quoted from it

Anonymous Anacaona October 07, 2012 3:54 PM  

Anacaona, the point you are missing is that it isnt what you think or imagine. The point is what is the truth and why does evidence point to us all being decieved. You are attempting to come up with imaginative ways the lies could be true instead of seeking the truth.

I'm just pointing out to a possibility, you know you make an hypothesis and look for proof that is true or not. YOU decided that mainstream has been deceiving us based on a few accounts. I don't think that is enough proof to call it "truth" but YOUR truth. If that float your boat....

Anonymous Kickass October 07, 2012 5:10 PM  

No, you look at evidence first Ana. Historical, eye witness accounts and the observable. Then you think. Something not taught today. Dont assume what is truth to me, ask if you care but dont waste time assuming.

Anonymous Other Josh October 07, 2012 5:11 PM  

Alot of people would reject a child like this, or at least not know how to deal with such an abnormality.

I'm glad her parents love her and accept her.

Anonymous Mr. B.A.D. October 07, 2012 5:34 PM  

"As for dragons: Ever seen a dinosaur fossil?"

yeah, ancient people encountering large reptiles and recording it in their stories probably has a lot to do with the large reptile fossils that we have discovered today. Except that in the stories the dragons are almost always sentient..... However there is one story of an ancient sentient reptile that offends God and has its entire kind cursed to crawl on their bellies in the dust. and the major difference between modern reptiles and ancient ones besides their size is that modern reptiles legs stick out on the sides forcing them to crawl on their bellies and ancient ones did not.

Anonymous Anacaona October 07, 2012 6:01 PM  

No, you look at evidence first Ana. Historical, eye witness accounts and the observable.

Historically: we have had all sorts of myths and legends about this fantastic creatures. Hence the idea that this might the ancient way to explain genetic diseases or/and selective breeding by groups, something we had been doing to other creatures for millennial.
Eye witness: very few and far between specially in modern times (of course this could be accounted for everything that went extinct)
Observable: What would that be?

Dont assume what is truth to me, ask if you care but dont waste time assuming.

I'm not assuming you categorically said that: The point is what is the truth and why does evidence point to us all being decieved. You are attempting to come up with imaginative ways the lies could be true instead of seeking the truth.

Your statement is that the evidence points out to us being deceived I disagree with that. Capisce?

Anonymous kh123 October 07, 2012 7:36 PM  

"modern reptiles legs stick out on the sides forcing them to crawl on their bellies and ancient ones did not."

Not quite. Therapsids - whatever the hell they really were - and more specifically pelycosaurs, seem to have morphological affinities with modern lizard locomotion (i.e., splayed limbs and belly crawling), and all are pretty much assumed extinct. This also assumes that Dinos are correctly classified as Reptilia, or that the ancient taxonomic term would even include them.

If you're referencing the Genesis story, so far snakes in general seem to fit the description the most, with Caecilians or Sirenians coming in close second as a possibility. Some snakes still show vestiges of hind limbs, specifically pythons. There are also slow-worms, or legless lizards, which may be either the more ancient variety of the cursed reptilian line, or a branch of Reptilia that gradually met the same fate genetically as what "snakes" were apparently handed in one fell swoop.

Anonymous jay c October 07, 2012 10:54 PM  

kickass wrote Dwarves and Giants (demons too) are all recorded in the Bible.

Where are dwarves recorded in the Bible?

Blogger IM2L844 October 07, 2012 11:51 PM  

Book of Enoch explains all. Jesus quoted from it

Jesus did not quote from the book of Enoch! You might be thinking of Jude (Jude:14 "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these…") who was probably quoting from an oral tradition and not a book written by Enoch. The book of Enoch contradicts the bible in several places and was more than likely a poorly reverse engineered pseudepigraphical writing after the fact.

Anonymous bw October 08, 2012 1:14 AM  


The earliest Gentile Christians also accepted and made use of the Book of Enoch. Many of the so-called "Church Fathers" either quoted Enoch, or made use of it. Among these were the author of the Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas, Justin Martyr (2nd C.), Irenaeus (2ndC.), Clement of Alexandria (2nd C.) and Origin (3rd C.). Tertullian
(160-230 C.E.) even called the book "Holy Scripture". The book was canonized by the Ethiopic Church.





Anonymous TheVillageIdiotRet October 08, 2012 2:03 AM  

It was a real freak out, when one morning I woke up and realized
somebody had put my head on my fathers body

DannyR

Anonymous Anonymous October 08, 2012 3:00 AM  

Re Giants: Look up Angus McAskall, who was 7"10 and reputed to be able to lift a 2800 pound achor. Legends of giants could easily be based on men such as that, especially once you account for exaggeration and second hand telling of the tales.

Anonymous L.W. Dickel October 08, 2012 3:07 AM  

Praise our blessed savior for genetic mutations!!! The world would be so boring without them!!! Thank you Jesus for the multitude of birth defects that cause thousands of children to suffer horribly every day!! And thank you also for the genetic mutation that gave John Holmes an 11 inch donger!!!

Anonymous Daniel October 08, 2012 9:58 AM  

Re Giants: Look up Angus McAskall, who was 7"10 and reputed to be able to lift a 2800 pound achor. Legends of giants could easily be based on men such as that, especially once you account for exaggeration and second hand telling of the tales.

Second hand telling/exaggeration is a common explanation.

The problem is, source documents don't tend to support this theory. Take the somewhat notorious "kings lists" of the Babylonian records. Kings' chronological ages appear to be given in extraordinary amounts - there are kings who apparently live to be 30,000 or even 100,000 years old, with reigns almost as long.

The common explanation is that such fanciful numbers were used to emphasize the godhood or greatness of kings, and of course they developed long after the death of the early kings, when it the falseness of the myth couldn't be directly verified.

Of course, this explanation holds no water: kings, of all people, were keenly interested in being recorded at the time. Just as we can not imagine the President as being untouched by the existence of press conferences, it is silly to think that an ancient king did not surround himself with scribes and historians. So, the "exaggeration" had to come 1st hand, not second-hand. (Note: possibly not with the first kings, as the existing lists obviously are later records - the point is, at some point during the establishment of the lists, there was source material contemporary with a 1st hand witness to a king.)

The same is true for many, many accounts of giants and dragons. After all, it is historically obvious that the experiences of Israel's King David were recorded, for the most part, during his life or the life of his direct descendant. So, the stories of giants and such, if they were exaggerations, were 1st hand exaggerations.

Back to the Babylonians: Their reigns are preposterous on their face. Somewhere down the line, a human king died and his reign was immediately seemingly impossibly recorded as extending over a period of 10,000 years!

However, "year" is not literally used in the Babylonian record: a unit called the saros is. The common number indicated by the saros is something like 3000 (I don't remember exactly). So, a king's reign might be record as 10 saros and we translate that as 30,000 (or whatever 10xsaros is) years!

The thing the Greek historians recognized, but modern ones often overlook is that the saros is not merely a unit like a year. It was a mathematical concept, based off the solar year or something like that, that the Babylonians developed. It was a measurement (the 3000 figure), but also a separate unit of time, equal, not to 3000+, but to 18 years, plus some months and hours.

What does this mean?

The famed "exaggerated" king's lists are far less laughable than we think they are. Reigns of 30,000 years suddenly become far, far more reasonable with the proper use of the saros.

Instead of a Babylonian "reign" being in the tens of thousands of years, it becomes obvious that the Kings Lists have kings who reigned for merely 300, 200, 100 or even 50 years.

So the question then becomes: even if the saros is less ridiculous than our erroneous historical knowledge at first allows, why are reigns still a seemingly unlikely number, in some cases, as high as 300?

In any case, I'd argue that, while folklore plays a role in exaggeration, "the second hand telling of tales" explanation is convenient, but provably inapplicable in a high number of instances. It certainly can't be used as a universal catch-all theory to explain away giants, long-lived kings, dragons, etc.

Blogger CR106 October 08, 2012 11:40 AM  

OT: Regarding the fiction books prominently displayed on the right side of the website: Is Theodore Beale Vox's pen name or is that another author? I haven't been reading here that long. Thanks.

Anonymous Daniel October 08, 2012 12:52 PM  

CR106: You could say that Theodore Beale is one of Vox's pen name. It is his birth name, actually. He writes under Vox Day for non-fiction, and as Theodore Beale for his fiction work.

Incidentally, the name Vox Day is a multi-lingual play (plus a multiple entendre) on his given first name ("Theo").

The multiple layers of the name "Vox Day" as used by Theodore Beale (and vice versa)

Vox = Latin for "Voice" - Therefore "Vox Day" can be viewed as polyglot meaning "The voice of the day"

Vox Day = sounds like "Vox Dei," which is latin for "The Voice of God" - this seemingly plays to both Vox's arrogant self-image and his Christocentric worldview, until you realize that, "Vox Dei" is, in fact, a key phrase of the idiom:

"Vox populi, vox Dei" = Latin for "The voice of the people is the voice of god," which is actually traced to an old aphorism about politics which really means: People who think the voice of the people is the voice of God only contribute to riots, and are insane.

However, it doesn't stop there, because if you translate "Vox Dei" into Greek you get:

φωνή του θεού = phōnē tu theou = Voice of Theo

So there you have way more information about Vox's names than you ever wanted!

Sidenote: The name of this blog is actually an Italian play on the Latin phrase about the people being insane: Popoli is a town in Italy. Vox lives in Italy. Popoli means the same thing as the Latin "Populi" What is not clear, however, is if the lunatics are the people of the world who are commented on by the commenters, or the commenters themselves.

Anonymous rycamor October 08, 2012 1:45 PM  

Campion October 07, 2012 1:26 PM

The Romans found the Germans to be grotesquely tall. Average Roman ~5'4", avg German 6'. I think myths of giants more likely come from encounters/wars between shorter and taller peoples, subsequently exaggerated for dramatic effect.


Don't forget the Thracians. The first emperor Maximinus from Thrace supposedly stood over 8' tall and as a young Roman soldier was tough enough to run on foot with the chariot divisions.

Blogger CR106 October 08, 2012 3:27 PM  

Thanks Daniel. I've been wondering about the Vox Day name too.

Anonymous kh123 October 08, 2012 4:31 PM  

"Praise our blessed savior for genetic mutations!!!"

Ironic, considering Aspergers seems to be a factor in explaining a fair share of the atheist demographic.

Blogger Justthisguy October 08, 2012 10:46 PM  

Hey, what about those of us who are normal-looking, but excessively earnest and socially awkward? I think that having a touch of the autitude is good for you, except for the two main bugs. Those would be the not-getting-hired bug and the not-getting-laid bug. Interestingly, I have found a gal who is in the music party at my church (she plays violin quite well) who is rather disheveled and awkward-looking, no matter how well-dressed she is. (and she has money) I got her to take one of those online AQ tests a while back. She came at me the next week and said, "You bastard!" ( while giggling a bit). I think she got a lower score than I generally get, but I think I am pretty good at Aspie-spotting, and she is definitely One of Us.

Her awkwardness is just so endearing. I tell ya, if both of us were just twenty years younger... Oh, to be forty again!

Anonymous Kickass October 09, 2012 12:02 AM  


For Jay C, here is just one mention.....


<< Leviticus 21 >> New American Standard Bible

20 or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles. 21 ‘No man among the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a defect is to come near to offer the LORD’S offerings by fire; since he has a defect, he shall not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 ‘He may eat the food of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy, 23 only he shall not go in to the veil or come near the altar because he has a defect, so that he will not profane My sanctuaries. For I am the LORD who sanctifies them.’”

Anonymous B October 09, 2012 3:37 AM  

@ Daniel: Exaggeration can eaily happen first hand too. If the biggest person you've ever seen is two inches taller and ten kg heavier (no TV back then) then you come across a man a foot or more taller he may well seem much bigger.
Goliath could simply be the proverbial fish who gets bigger each time the men who saw David slay him retell the story.

Dragons could be any number of animals, probably crocodiles or something, that most people have rarely seen but have heard of. The English concept of dragon could have come from the East where their concept of dragon came from crocodiles or other lizards.

A reign of 30,000 years could be translation as you say, or a lie to exaggerate the divinity of the king, or the name may be passed on father to son to keep the illusion that he is the same man.

Anonymous Kickass October 09, 2012 9:03 AM  

B, or people like you could pick and choose the evidentiary methods that are valid when it suits your purposes and when it does not.

Anonymous Daniel October 09, 2012 10:13 AM  

@ Daniel: Exaggeration can eaily happen first hand too. If the biggest person you've ever seen is two inches taller and ten kg heavier (no TV back then) then you come across a man a foot or more taller he may well seem much bigger.
Goliath could simply be the proverbial fish who gets bigger each time the men who saw David slay him retell the story.


Except that honest weights and measures were of critical moral and historical import, which is why they weighed the armor of Goliath after his death, and gave his height in specific measures. Goliath was not beyond the realm of human growth: he was only slightly taller than Robert Wadlow. If Goliath was a proverbial fish, then he certainly would have been recorded as being significantly taller, when earlier books of the bible record much larger folks.

Again, their are no 30,000 year reigns. They are 10 saros reigns and such, which has been misnumerated as 30,000 years. The more obvious and accurate translation of that number into years would be something like 180 years, which could be a dynasty, an exaggeration, or a long life, but in any case is much more in the ballpark of reality than the seemingly mythological multiple millennia reign. Considering that, in saros, there are kings on the list with reigns of less than 60 years, the exaggeration effect is unlikely, especially in a culture where accurate numbers and mathematics were based on astronomical observation and prediction, television or no television.

It should be noted that a number of historians record a variety of giants, with specific measurements. Very tall people were just as interesting, and perhaps more well-known, to the ancients as today's are to us.

Romans, if anyone, certainly knew how to measure and record bones.

Anonymous Anacaona October 09, 2012 12:45 PM  

Except that honest weights and measures were of critical moral and historical import, which is why they weighed the armor of Goliath after his death, and gave his height in specific measures. Goliath was not beyond the realm of human growth: he was only slightly taller than Robert Wadlow. If Goliath was a proverbial fish, then he certainly would have been recorded as being significantly taller, when earlier books of the bible record much larger folks.

Kings and rulers misrepresenting and exaggerating their feats is a known tactic specially from the ancient past. A court recorder could had put this measures in a exaggerated way to make the king a legend. We cannot extrapolate that all measures are the same specially when of kings and feats is about. David had powerful motives and this is the same man that tried to cuckold a man and later sent him to his death (carrying the letter himself) to keep the scandal down. So I wouldn't place past him to ask the recorders to embellish the story and who would had noticed it or change it later? YMMV.

Anonymous Daniel October 09, 2012 2:44 PM  

Of course embellishment is a known tactic of the ancients - the Egyptians made it into an art form for goodness sakes.

But that entirely misses the point. The fact that the specific weights and measures of Goliath, or that the reigns of Chaldean kings could have been embellished does not mean that they were.

In fact, the more you look at the evidence and cultures, the less able one is able to make the blanket assumption that the ancients were notorious liars, so anything that they say that doesn't mesh with current understanding must have been legendary or mythological.

The fact that David's sins are so explicitly spelled out by his own hand, as a matter of fact, is Exhibit A in the camp of "David Didn't Lie About His Activities and Experience."

Same goes for the Chaldeans. Accurate math was approached with religious fervor - the stars would have betrayed their records. Lying about a king's feats is one thing: performing horrible math to do it is entirely another.

In fact, the saros allows for a sort of literary exagerration without losing site of the facts and figures. Its secondary meaning (the big number: 3600 or something like that) could express the magnitude of the king while its plain, astrological meaning (about 18 years) would not be lost.

The fact that the only evidence you provide for exaggeration is an unrelated, self-admitted, repented sin of the claimant actually works against your thesis:

After all, if David or his scribes were exaggerators, the shameful story about Uriah the Hittite's murder would have gone unreported.

My point is this: If you are going to dismiss ancient claims as exaggeration, you better have good evidence and logic for the exaggeration, or else you are just being lazy, and probably incorrect.

Anonymous Anacaona October 09, 2012 8:51 PM  

But that entirely misses the point. The fact that the specific weights and measures of Goliath, or that the reigns of Chaldean kings could have been embellished does not mean that they were.
I don't claim I'm 100% positive about it I just mentioned another possibility we should take in account.

After all, if David or his scribes were exaggerators, the shameful story about Uriah the Hittite's murder would have gone unreported.

David at the beginning of his story as a king and warrior is depicted saintly, chosen by God and as a victim of Saul jealousy and a good man in the first period of his reign. The second period though is full of his sins. It could be that there was a message about his devolution that could explain the later faith of his house falling in disgrace and that is why it was recorded or/and that we have two sets of scribes one that were working to keep the people at peace and the ones that upon the king getting elderly and losing the favor of his people they decided to portray in a less savory matter. Again something that has happened before and just a possibility.

My point is this: If you are going to dismiss ancient claims as exaggeration, you better have good evidence and logic for the exaggeration, or else you are just being lazy, and probably incorrect.

I'm not dismissing it, I can be totally wrong I'm just a bit skeptic about the idea that the story of Goliat is an accurate account of a real giant (and I mean it in the sense of supernaturally big not just a really tall man) due to the measure of his armor. Just that.

Anonymous Daniel October 10, 2012 1:35 PM  

The bible doesn't suggest that Goliath was supernaturally large, merely that he was a giant. Keeping in mind that he was likely measured after death, and that David chopped his head off right away, it is clear that height was likely recorded on a prostrate Goliath, and may even have been measured from the toe to the shoulder, with the detached head measured separately. This certainly would add several inches (a half-foot or more) to the recorded height.

Then, there is the question of the recorded height. He was measured in cubits - so the question is, "which cubit?" There are many cubits available: the Egyptian royal standard cubit, the common standard cubit, the non-standard cubit (that is basically based on each individual's own arm length) etc. A 1 foot cubit puts Goliath at about 6'9" or something like that. If he was measured from toe to detached head, his modern height could have been as short as 6'3".

This seems unlikely. The average Israelite was probably 5'3" or something like that, so a 6'9" or even 6'3" Goliath would have seemed like a "big guy", but not significantly taller than King Saul, who was a head taller than anyone else, and so probably 6'1" or thereabouts.

However, if it is the case that Goliath is accurately reported by the bible as being a 6'9" giant, then the "exaggeration" effect is surely void in that instance.

But then, look at how heavy his armor was, its weight alone is enough to suggest that Goliath himself weighed north of 400 pounds.

It also isn't known if the measurement of Goliath is "clad" or "unclad." Sometimes, famed warrior heights are given including their full armor, and therefore are several inches taller, with the helmet. (My football coach used to do this when listing us in the program: our height was measured in cleats and helmet, to make us seem more intimidating, I guess. Problem was, height inflation went on the other side of the field, too.)

In any case, without going through the reasons for choosing the proper cubit length, Goliath is, at most unusual, no taller than 9'9", at most "normal" no taller than 6'3" and at most likely (by a lot - it coincides well with his relatives' measurements, using a standard cubit and span system of 16 inches and 7.5 inches, respectively) about 8'7" which doesn't even make him the tallest guy in history.

The exaggeration effect is a rabbit trail. Goliath is a most likely giant without it.

The Kings lists of Babylon are a similar principle: once you begin to use the proper measurements, the entire reason for suggesting exaggeration becomes irrelevant, because these important moments in world history become very well within the modern range of possibility.

Anonymous Anacaona October 11, 2012 12:37 AM  

In any case, without going through the reasons for choosing the proper cubit length, Goliath is, at most unusual, no taller than 9'9", at most "normal" no taller than 6'3" and at most likely (by a lot - it coincides well with his relatives' measurements, using a standard cubit and span system of 16 inches and 7.5 inches, respectively) about 8'7" which doesn't even make him the tallest guy in history.

You see that is take I find more reasonable about the whole thing. Thank you for taking the time to explain it to me in detail with more proof and modern comparisons. :)

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